Gerald Almy

Gerald Almy

Spring turkey hunting is tough.

Of course if you watch hunting TV shows that’s not the way the film crews make it look. A few yelps, a cluck or two and the television star is rushing out to gather his fallen quarry, usually a trophy bird with long, sharp spurs.

And we’ve all certainly heard the tales about the guy who stumbles into the woods, cranks out his first calls ever on a cheap box, and nails a huge tom.

But those shows and the beginner’s luck tales don’t really tell the true story. Turkey hunting, plain and simple, is difficult.

What you don’t hear are stories like these…a film crew and turkey hunting pro spend nearly a week in prime gobbler country but fail to get footage of a kill…a champion caller who goes afield 21 days straight without luring a bird into shotgun range...birds that come into clean range of experienced hunters, but somehow manage to escape without losing a feather.

For every beginner’s success tale, there are dozens of hard-luck stories where hunters spend day after day in the woods without connecting.

Turkeys can humble anyone, but to cut your odds of that happening, follow the steps in this three-part series to bagging a long-bearded tom this spring.

One--Hike away from the roads to find fresh birds. One of the negative consequences of the exploding popularity of spring gobbler hunting is that many birds are pestered and called to constantly.

The gullible ones quickly go in the freezer. The ones left seem to know every nuance of every call made. If you have enough time and patience, trying to outwit such difficult, educated birds is challenging. But if you’d rather find a more cooperative quarry, put on the hiking boots and cover ground.

When you locate a tom after walking a mile or more from the nearest vehicle access, chances are he’s heard few other calls and is not overly wary. Thousands of turkeys never hear a call from a hunter simply because they live their lives out far from vehicle access. If you take the time to go after these gobblers, you’ll often find them surprisingly easy.

Two--Check for flaws in your camo. Few people try to call spring gobblers in today without wearing camouflage. But is your pattern the best one available for the type of habitat and vegetation you’re hunting and stage of green-up?

Early in the season or in rocky areas, gray, black, and brown branch-type patterns are often best. As the season progresses, you’ll want some green in the clothing and more leaf shapes.

Many of the all-purpose patterns that have come out in recent years will work well, but just make sure the colors match your surroundings. Don’t be afraid to mix brands, either. Wear a shirt from one manufacturer and a pair of pants from another company if it seems appropriate for the terrain and vegetation. It may not be fashionable, but if it works, go for it.

And while everyone wears a camouflaged shirt and pants, it’s important not to overlook smaller details. Face and hands need gloves and a mask, camo face paint or powder.

Make sure you don’t have a white tee-shirt that peeks out at the neck. Consider your socks, too. They should be brown, green, or gray. Whatever you do, don’t wear white socks, which could be mistaken for part of a turkey’s head. Finally, don’t forget to wear a camouflage hat! It will cover up your hair, and also keep the sun out of your eyes as you try to aim at an incoming bird.

Next Week: Part II of the series

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.